ABA Banking Journal - November 2013 - (Page 6)
By bill Streeter
You do the deeds,
now add the words
"In today's media-crazed
world, people who quietly go
about their business, doing
worthwhile work, often
ABA BANKING JOURNAL
he tag line for this month's cover
story could be: "We're better than
you think we are." That's a little flip,
but the truth is, even in small markets
where "everybody knows everything,"
many people aren't aware of the scope
of work, involvement, and support that
local banks bring to the community. Not
just charitable contributions, but the many
good things that the business of banking
makes possible, as described so well by
Jeff Plagge in his column on page 4.
Equally true is that even in small communities, the impact of negative headlines
cannot be underestimated or ignored.
Ultimately, it's policymakers and the
people who influence them who need to
know more about what banks do.
To paraphrase Plato, "When I hear a
man speak, I compare the man and his
words and note the correspondence of
them." It's not only a wise philosopher
that does that. Everybody does it whenever
they hear a person speak about themselves or on behalf of an organization.
But here's the thing: bankers do in
fact walk the walk, to use a more recent
expression. And because they do, they
can feel comfortable talking about it.
The whole thrust of ABA's Amplify
program, described in the cover story
(p. 22), is to amplify the knowledge and
understanding of what banks already do,
and have always done. It is not an ad
campaign; not a clever slogan. Nor is it
intended to imply that "no bank and no
banker ever made a mistake." What it is
intended to do is help convey the fact
that banks occupy a very important role
in their communities and in the economy.
In today's media-crazed world, people
who quietly go about their business, doing
worthwhile work, often go unnoticed. If
bankers follow the principle that it's better
to let deeds speak louder than words-
which, as a matter of personal behavior, is
commendable-their professional deeds
will never be noticed. Worse, there will
be no counterargument to the stream of
mis- and disinformation about banks.
No industry can afford to ignore having its reputation tarnished, even if an
individual bank's reputation is spotless.
Tarnish is always harder to remove if left
untouched for long. No ad or PR campaign can remove it, however. The most
effective solution begins, as with so many
things, from the grassroots. From there
it percolates up to the ears and minds of
policymakers and even the media. This
is not a short-term fix-nothing from the
bottom up could be. But that same factor gives such movements great impact
and staying power. And that is what the
banking industry needs to restore luster
to its reputation.
Besides registering on the Amplify
bankers need to generate broad awareness and interest in the program within
their bank. Like many excellent ideas,
the success of this one will depend on
how much bankers actually believe in the
need to do something. The alternative is
to continue to be frustrated by the lack of
understanding of what banks do.
It will take work and commitment to
change that. But in time, by embracing
the steps and using the resources on the
Amplify website-meeting with local editors; bringing your congressman to the
bank, etc.-the tide of misinformation
and misunderstanding will begin to turn.
That will pay very healthy dividends.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - November 2013
Will farmland prices hold up?
What you do, amplified
Inside Farmer Mac
Meeting the challenge of identity theft
Pass the Aspirin
ABA At Your Service
ABA Banking Journal - November 2013